Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a multidisciplinary DHEC team, South Carolinians this summer have been able to easily locate fresh fruits and vegetables with a click of a few buttons.
The S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App – a free, interactive map that makes it easier to find and buy fresh produce locally— debuted in June.
Work group helped pulled project together
The successful project began more than a year ago with a work group that included representatives from various parts of DHEC, the S.C. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Department of Social Services, and the S.C. Association of Farmers Markets.
As the partners began meeting, they identified the importance of not only developing a tool for the public but also maintaining an inventory of up-to-date information on the number of farmers’ markets and roadside markets in the state. A key detail was including information on those markets accepting food and nutrition assistance benefits, like SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.
DHEC teams collected key information
The DHEC regional teams conducted 229 inventories—or visits and information gathering from markets and produce stands—throughout April, May and June 2015. This information was used to ultimately create the web-based app that shows the location, hours of operation and accepted payment types, including SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers programs for more than 200 farmers markets and roadside produce stands across the state.
Last month the regional teams completed the 2016 updates and collected information on even more markets statewide, said Teresa Hill, health eating consultant in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity who leads the work group.
She said the work group and the teams on the ground used lessons learned from the 2015 inventory to improve this year’s collection and analysis efforts.
Susan Collier, a member of the Midlands Community Systems team in the Rock Hill area, worked in the field to collect information from farmers and served on the statewide work group. She said the project was a great example of teamwork.
“All of us worked in our communities to make sure we maximized our reach to be as inclusive as we possibly could,” she said. “I enjoyed it as a way to get to know the community in a different way than we’ve done before.”
Many thanks to DHEC team members
Members of DHEC teams involved in the project from a regional level in 2015 and 2016 included: Kelsey Allen, Laura Long, Misty Lee and Page Rogers in the Upstate; Susan Collier, Janet Ellis, Elizabeth Gerndt, Jacquelyn Hughes, Linda O’ Neill, and Candra Riley in the Midlands; Deborah Dunbar, Regina Nesmith, Jessica Piezzo, Sara Price, and Reginald Scott in the Pee Dee; and George Bush, Sharon Crossley, Martha Dunlap, Brenda Hughes and Madie Orage-Green in the Lowcountry.
Members of the GIS team involved in the project were Phil Weinbach and Seth Church.
Other members of the work group from DHEC included Kristian Myers, Susannah Small and Samantha Truman from the Office of Program Evaluation Services; Betsy Crick, Berry Kelly, Nakell Matthews, Rebecca Wrenn and Michelle Yates of WIC; Sandy Spann of SNAP-Ed; Robert Coaxum, Amy Curran, Harley Davis, and Khosrow Heidari of Public Health Statistics and Information Services; and Alyssa Renwick from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
A special shout-out to all of these valuable DHEC staff for showcasing our core values of inspiring innovation and promoting teamwork!